No, I didn’t pick the wrong day to give up sniffing glue!
If you write, professionally or just for fun, you’ll probably understand. I’m trying to set down the words that have been conga dancing in my brain as I just showered and shaved. I probably shouldn’t have shaved because my fingers kept poking my brain in rhythmic harmony.
It’s the end of a truly bad week for Marilyn and me. We’re sharing a bug that includes migraine headaches, queasy stomachs and bodies lurching from one room to another.
It’s the capper to a week where Marilyn has been battling the insurance company to pay for repairs to our house battered by the spate of recent storms and very vulnerable to the next storm on the horizon. You’ll be shocked to hear that the Insurance Company is stonewalling us, oblivious to damage documented by one of their investigators and tone-deaf to our meager social security and pensions that cannot pay for the repairs.
As we assess the latest debate by the Democratic Presidential wannabees and aren’t as excited about a viable candidate to oppose the guy now squatting in the White House, we are staring at each other, two seventy-something wunderkinds, wondering how quickly we slid from the top of our game to “seniors.”
What happened to the world of youth, energy, and expectations?
My bathroom conga line of memories, with bongoes banging on my brains, was back in the ’70s and ’80s. I was living in Boston, in my prime as a TV reporter with earnings that promised to rise with no end in sight. Life was a pulsating 24-hour trip that kept recycling.
Work and play blended seamlessly. Everyone was young with boundless energy. I slept little, worked hard, and played harder. I paid little attention to health or finances. My pockets were always full.
Those days of wine and roses were most obvious during my Martha’s Vineyard summers. There were more than 20 magical summers with other media friends who shared a house. We had the kind of life you thought only existed in F. Scott Fitzgerald novels.
The wine never stopped flowing. My box of unpaid credit card bills, growing in volume, sat ignored as I plied myself with more of that feel-good liquid.
Best of all, the summer Sundays. I was usually up with the roosters. A tall bloody Mary and the Sunday papers to peruse slowly. The sports section came first. Baseball box scores studied with the scrutiny of a lifetime fan whose life revolved around the fate of the Boston Red Sox.
The Bloody Mary intake accelerated as I looked at the stats of Yaz, Rice, Lynn, Pudge, Dewey, and the other Fenway bats. I would always need to strengthen the drinks to pace myself — absorbing the gaudy numbers of the sons of Teddy Ballgame.
The numbers were always robust during the New England summers when home runs battered the old cathedral of baseball. The bloody Marys now had me dreaming that this would be the year the Sox would finally defeat those damn Yankees.
I gave little attention to the Sox pitching which was wise. Even with the alcoholic bliss. I thought that fall we’d hold the lead and not succumb to the chill of autumn and the Yankees’ superior pitching. I always ignored the suggestion of friends to eat a little something to balance out the alcohol which had been replaced by Cape Codders. Then, as sunset crept across the Vineyard, moving on to a sturdy rum with just a dash of coke.
All was blissful as someone started the barbecue in the backyard which faced Nantucket Sound.
We rarely talked about work. Our TV jobs were in another world where the less fortunate continued to toil while we played. As twilight faded into warm evenings, we would sit on the back porch, staring at Nantucket Sound. There was a mutual agreement: “We were living the dream.”
I gave little thought to my future. Life was now. In the moment. If you worked in TV news, there was always a collective fear someone would call, demanding we leave our reverie and cover some breaking news – murder, fire, weather, or another politician’s dirty laundry uncovered.
We often ignored the phone. That was the world before computers and cell phones made it impossible to hide. Now and then, we did ponder a future. Maybe a communal home on the Vineyard for our lives in retirement. Those idle thoughts were lost in the pungent haze that floated above the back porch. In my mind, I could see a vague future. Lots of free time, good health, and no money worries.
I figured I’d always look the way I seemed to look for so many years. No worries. I’d always be “the kid.” I smiled to myself. Another rum with a hint of coke and I was ready for dreams about a world I figured would always be good to us.
Things promised to get only better when Marilyn came back into my life, solidifying our relationship that began in college when LBJ was president. Marriage began a new chapter in my life. Little did I envision how the future would change life’s trajectory.
All the things I’d ignored awaited us. I had a lot of maturing to do as reality began to check-in. There would be the termination of a job I thought would go on forever. The joys and nightmares of homeownership in a misty mid-region valley. A plethora of health issues that almost took Marilyn’s life.
POSTSCRIPT: I finally put a cork in the bottle on December 7th, 2004. I’ll always be grateful to Marilyn and my family for the support, patience, and encouragement as life seemed to be going down the drain for me.
Now, I celebrate those olden days with raspberry lime rickey and lemonade mixed with ginger ale. All current problems notwithstanding, I’m a lucky guy. And I’ve still got a working liver!